Your favourite medieval mystery series?
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I really liked Viviane Moore's Blue Blood, it had a nice setting (the building of a French cathedral) and the backstory made me suspect a tribute to Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. However, I didn't find her subsequent "Chevalier Galeran" mysteries interesting or memorable and gave up halfway through A Black Romance.
I guess there are more Cadfael fans than Cadfael haters on here, so please don't hate me - I've tried to read Ellis Peters's work, but I didn't like the writing, it just didn't 'flow' enough for me. Kate Sedley's "Roger the Chapman' series was OK at the time of reading but not particularly memorable, and Susanna Gregory's "Matthew Bartholomew" series is quite dry and unfriendly imho.
My favourite has to be Lindsey Davis's Falco - her Roman details are pretty much spot on. I also liked the short lived series based on Robert Carey in Carlisle by Patricia Finney under the name PF Chisholm. The first is A Famine of Horses.
A favourite of mine too. I thought the first book was brilliant, but the subsequent books have been up/down for me. Still good enough to read, but I'm not rushing through them either. :)
Bibliotheque was kind enough to invite me to join, and I've made some postings to existing topics.
I do enjoy good historical mysteries, and I can certainly echo the accolades lauded on the Brother Cadfael and Sister Fidelma books, as well as many others.
One of my favorite and prolific historical mystery author is P.C. Doherty.
He's a written ALOT of books (under pseudonyms like Michael Clynes,Vanessa Alexander, and Anna Apostolou.
His web site, www.paulcdoherty.com, lists a complete bibliography, and if you haven't heard of this author, I think that you'll him a great read.
Also, I sense a certain American - European bent to the historical mysteries mentioned on this site.
So, I'd like to stick up for Robert S. Van Gulik's eminent Chinese Detective of the 7th Century (of the Western Common Era) T'and Dynasty.
There's a complete bibliography of Judge Dee books at http://www.friesian.com/ross/dee.htm.
Judge Dee might be a little heavy handed (and predictable in later works), but he and his band of "henchmen" always get their man (or woman.)
Most of the books are in print in paperback.
I just want to say that this seems like a great group, and I'm getting way, way too many new books to read.
I just looked back at your first message. I can't imagine how you could think of Susanna Gregory's Mathew Bartholomew series as being "quite dry and unfriendly"? She's got great plots--the mysteries are intriguing and complex (certainly nothing you will easily figure out before Mathew and Brother Michael do the same), her characters (including the city of Cambridge) are well developed and interesting, and she tells a great story. Certainly her research appears to be meticulous, but her writing brings the times to life and adds immeasurably to the stories.
Umberto Eco is the only author who equals or exceeds her in really transporting us into the medieval world.
One that I don't see mentioned anywhere yet is Alan Gordon and his "Feste the Fool" series. Feste is a jester in the Fool's Guild and travels all over Europe and the Middle East in late 1100's and early 1200''s acting as a spy and general solver of mysteries. Wonderful stories, rich in cultural detail and well-written with a bit of a wicked sense of humor thrown in. The first one is Thirteenth Night if I remember right.
Another I don't see listed is Sharon Kay Penman with her four-book Justin de Quincy medieval series in which the protagonist ends up being a 'queen's man' (which is the title of the the first one, The Queen's Man ) for Eleanor of Aquitaine. I wish she would write more of them! I like her straight historical fiction, though at times it can be repetitive and plodding--these mysteries were not like that at all.
Another I don't see mentioned yet is Bernard Knight with his Crowner John series--Sir John de Wolfe is the first ever coroner in Devon in late 1100's. Coroner was a very different job then than it is now! The main character is a flawed, grumpy, philandering war veteran but I like him--and he's got a well-fleshed cadre of regular supporting characters that's great too. The first in that series is The Sanctuary Seeker
Anyone an Alys Clare fan? I quite enjoy her Abbess Helewise and Sir Josse d'Acquin series set at fictional Hawkenlye Abbey.
How about Caroline Roe's Isaac of Girona series, featuring a blind Jewish physician in Spain in the 1350's, just after the Black Death goes through Europe. I quite like them.
Okay, I just thought of another one I don't see listed...anyone else reading and enjoying Pat McIntosh and her series set in Scotland featuring Gil Cunningham ? I've only read the first two so far--they're not easy to come by, and I've had to resort to the library for the most part--but thoroughly enjoyed them.
All right...NOW to the favorites among those mentioned already:
Kate Sedley with Roger the Chapman
Candace Robb with Owen Archer (I didn't care for her Margaret Kerr series much, though)
Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma
Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew (I didn't care much for the first Thomas Chaloner book, tho.
Sharan Newman's Catherine LeVendeur
And some newer series I've recently started reading--can't call them favorites yet, but have enjoyed these enough to plan to continue reading:
Maureen Ash has a series featuring Bascot de Marins who is an ex-Templar knight in 1200's. The first is called The Alehouse Murders and I've got the second one here also.
I second the mention of Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death featuring female physician Adelia who must conceal the fact that she IS a physician because it just 'wasn't done' back then. I've got the second one here and need to get to it soon.
Sarah d'Almeida writes a series based on Alexandre Dumas's musketeers, the first is called Death of a Muskateer There's currently four of these available and I've read the first and got the next two waiting.
The authors I've tried and couldn't "get into" for whatever reason: Michael Jecks , Margaret Frazer, and I've tried several of P.C. Doherty's series (he writes under a number of pseudonyms) and just found the writing style to be dry and boring in all of them. Other folks love him, though!
Silverbooks, I don't want a 12-step program...I am fine right where I am and enjoying myself too much to want to quit historical mysteries! LOL I haven't counted the number of series I'm reading at the moment, but I'm sure it's at least 50 if you count all historical mysteries from all time-periods. :)
Another medieval series that hasn't been mentioned is Priscilla Royal's Prioress Eleanor of Tyndal. The first book is Wine of Violence set at the start of Richard the Lionheart's reign in, I believe, 1199. She is assisted by one of Richard's knights, so it has a similar setup to Alys Clare's series.
The Medieval Murderers have a series done jointly by Bernard Knight, Michael Jecks, Ian Morson, Susanna Gregory, and a couple others. The books are serial stories with action taking place over the centuries of the medieval era and moving thru the locales of each of the authors' characters. The first book is The Tainted Relic. Good intro to several medieval authors if you want to sample their work before deciding to begin a series.
Which reminds me, Ian Morson's Falconer series is another of my favorites. It's set in Oxford.
Did not care for the Sister Fidelma series, though. Tremayne has some weird writing quirks, IMHO. He's constantly describing characters' facial expressions, including how they blink. It just annoyed me after awhile.
1) The Cadfael Books Don't worry, I don't hate those who can't get into them. They are older and as such, the language is very dated.
2) The Fool's Guild Cycle Spuddie mentioned these, by Alan Gordon. They are funny and suspenseful and just lovely, and they touch on so many places, like France, Constantinople, Dalmatia, Denmark, and Outremere. There are currently seven books in the series that I know of.
3) Someone mentioned P.C. Doherty. My favorite of his pseudonyms is C.L. Grace, writing the Kathryn Swynbrook Mysteries. Set in Canterbury during the War of the Roses, they follow a female physician as she solves crimes and tries to navigate the warring factions.
I was able to get a copy of the first Bernard Knight Crowner John mystery when I was in Enland. But it's hard to get here in the US. I'm not much on buying online; but if I really want them...
There's also a series about Heloise and Abelard as religieux, which I liked, but found somewhat slow going.
The Sister Fildelma and Owen Archer series are great, too.
'THE KILLING OF RICHARD THE THIRD' (1971),
'TUDOR AGENT' (1974), &
'THE TRAITORS OF BOSWORTH' (1978)
As was usual for the period, clerk/scrivener Henry Morane also goes on spying missions and even goes into battle. Morane's loyalty is to the last Plantagenet, King Richard III (suspected by some to have had his own nephews killed in the Tower of London), which gives him a huge problem when Henry Tudor wins the Battle of Bosworth.
Mr Farrington brings out the flavour of the times, with its treacheries an torturous politics and my one regret is that he never wrote fourth, fifth novels in this terrific series.
I started reading Chaucer and the House of Fame by Philippa Morgan. Not exactly sure what I think of it yet. There seem to be several Chaucer mysteries by various authors out there...
I have done Cadfael, some of the Knights Templar, A Crooner John. Love our Owen Archer, not so much our Roger Chapman. Remember one Matthew Bartholomew but do not remember if I liked it or not.
If we get into Renaissance/Elizabethan, Edward Marston who has his Domesday book series in this period, has his Nicholas Bracewell which starts at The Queen's Head and then there are other Shakespeare using sleuths. But Nicholas Bracewell is a good read.
OPening the discussion to others of this later period gives us many more we can discuss.
Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson. Set in 1384 London. Crispin Guest is a former knight who was stripped of everything when he was embroiled in a treasonous plot against the young King Richard II (the powerful Duke of Lancaster interceded for his life). He's been barely surviving on the streets of London for the past eight years, hiring himself out as a finder of men and items. I really enjoyed the mystery and the characters. A second book is expected out sometime this year...
RE: Cadfael... I didn't mind them, but I read them because there really was nothing else out there (this was way back when...). It's so nice to have a variety of historical mystery series out there!
The death of Ariana Franklin was announced in the paper the other day, her real name was Diana Norman under which name she also wrote historical novels. She was the wife of Barry Norman the film critic - which will mean nothing to those of you from overseas but watchers of the BBC will know well. There are four books by Ariana Franklin published under different titles in Britain and America
Two series mentioned above that I dislike are Cadfael and Sister Fidelma. I find them impossible to get into and I have tried a number of times. Much to slow.
I like Candace Robb, Kate Sedley, Ariana Franklin, Sharan Newman and many more.
Incidentally, I am reading the first in a series written by Adriana Koulias called The Temple of the Grail ( France, 1254). It is reminiscent of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose in that several concepts are discussed and compared, from points of views of both Greek philosophers- ( pagans Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) and the church. As in The Name of the Rose, logic, rules of logic, symbolism, theology and philosophy all play strong roles in working out the clues and deducing the answers to the mystery. Plus they all get hopelessly lost in a huge labyrinth. I am really liking this book.